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tv   Betsy De Vos Delivers Bethune- Cookman University Commencement Address  CSPAN  June 1, 2017 10:14am-10:31am EDT

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[inaudible conversations] >> the education writers association holding this conference on education and the media. coming up in about 30 minutes, discussion about free speech on college campuses. recent incident at university of california berkeley and what it means in general. also this upcoming panel and the one just concluded on school chose to be available later today on a website while we have a few moments, education secretary betsy devos offered a commencement address at bethune-cookman university in florida. that was not well received i some of the students. >> dr. jackson, board of trustees, thank you so very much for this great honor and privilege.
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i am honored to become a wildcat. [shouting] and it's a real honor and privilege to be with you as a celebrate the bethune-cookman university class of 2017. congratulations to all of you. [shouting] in addition to the graduates, there are so many people deserving of special recognition today, parents, grandparents -- i like to ask all the moms here celebrating the graduates to stand right now and be recognized. moms, please stand up. [applause] and all the dads, please stand up. [applause]
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grandparents, family members, friends of graduates, thank you for your effort in getting them to this point. first lady florence jackson, chairman petrock and members of the board, provost walrond and members of the administrative staff and faculty, and the entire bethune-cookman community, thank you for the important role you all play in making today possible for these students. mayor henry, thank you for those encouraging words, and thank you and the other state and local elected officials for being here today. i am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you, and particularly with those who have disagreed with the invitation for me to be here. [shouting] one of the hallmarks of higher education, and of democracy, is
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the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree. [shouting] >> if this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. [shouting] choose which way you want to go. [shouting]
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graduates to be, would you please be seated? [shouting] graduates, would you please be seated. >> as i said i'm very grateful for the opportunity to speak with you today. [shouting] while we will undoubtedly disagree at times, i hope we can do so respectfully. let's choose to hear one another out. i want to reaffirm this
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administrations commitment to come and support, for the students they serve. please note this. we support you and will continue to support you. that is one reason why we support restoring year-round pell grants. this commonsense solution will enable more students to further their educations without taking on additional debt. i am at the table fighting on your behalf, and on behalf of all students across this great nation. i also want to acknowledge that we all arrived here today with different life experiences and different perspectives. i view that not as a negative, but as a gift.
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anytime we meet someone new, we have two options, we can focus on differences that might divide us, or we can choose to listen, to be receptive and to learn from others' experiences and perspectives. in my life, i have endeavored to do the latter, and as you leave this arena today, i hope you too, will chose this posture as you set out on this new and exciting stage of your life's adventure. i am here to celebrate you and all of your achievements. we are all here to applaud your perseverance and to encourage each of you to keep working to reach your full potential. and i'm here in the most tangible way i know how that, did himself that i at the entire administration are fully
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committed to your success and to the success of her students across this great country. [applause] that commitment to success is one i know i share with your president, dr. edison jackson. dr. jackson has long focused on creating opportunities for students and is an authentic advocate for lifelong learning. each of you who has had occasion to interact with or work alongside dr. jackson knows he has a profound, deep-seeded faith and an abiding belief in the transformational power of character, moral courage and purpose. dr. jackson, thank you for your daily work to secure and make available a life-changing education for the students you serve. [applause] your career is a personal inspiration to me, and it is the
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embodiment of b-cu's motto, enter to learn, depart to serve. graduates, you have heeded the first charge in that motto, and today stand at the interval preceding the second. i challenge you to leave this arena, faithful to completing the mission. the words are simple, yet powerful, depart to serve. it is good and right to pause today to celebrate your individual successes, but after that reflection, i am confident you will find service more rewarding than anything else. in serving, you will always reap more than you sow. the degree conferred on you today is the culmination of time, energy and effort invested and knowledge, experience and skills gained. however, the sum of your
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education here involved far more than sleepless nights spent cramming for a big exam, hours invested putting the finishing touches on papers, and time devoted to clubs, organizations and causes. the whole of your time at bethune-cookman university, your experiences, your relationships and your hard work, has laid a foundation for you to appreciate your responsibilities to your peers, your community, your country and the world. today you transition from student to graduate. what may have seemed an eternity away the moment you walked onto campus is now standing before you. you'll leave this place as the leaders who will transform the world. the tomorrow for which you've worked so hard to prepare has arrived, and it's yours to shape. your actions will determine the type of world you create, enjoy
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and leave to your children and grandchildren. i posit that a fundamental component in that pursuit to shape your world can be found in personal service. you may choose to give back by mentoring or volunteering. you may pour your life into creating equal opportunities for all, pursuing justice, tackling the toughest medical challenges, educating the rising generation, donning our nation's uniform to protect and defend our freedoms or making a discovery on the cutting edge of science, technology or engineering. i know bcu has prepared each of you well for these tasks. the human heart is hardwired toward service, and it's embedded in the dna of this institution. no doubt you know dr. mary mcleod bethune's amazing story
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very well, but let me share some of it for those beyond this hall who don't. she was a visionary, a leader i admire and respect, and someone about whom all americans should know. as one of 17 children born to parents who knew firsthand the horrors and injustice of slavery, dr. bethune was the only member of her family to be educated in a formal school setting. for her, education was a gift and an incredible privilege. [shouting] she believed it was her sacred duty to use her education to uplift others. so in 1904, with a burning determination in her soul and a meager dollar-fifty in her pocket, dr. bethune built a school from the ground up. over the course of her incredible 79-year lifespan, she fought for one singular and invaluable goal, to provide
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african-american children access to a quality education, access they were otherwise unjustly denied. her commitment to service is what has brought us together today. this inspired daughter of slaves refused to accept repulsive and systemic racism. she moved mountains, changing the lives and futures of countless students and families across generations. just think about the impact of dr. bethune's selfless, singular focus. then consider the influence that you, as a graduate, could have on the lives of others, both now and into the future. all that is required for world-shaking change is your conscious and courageous decision to serve. your path here was shaped by others, educators, parents, family members, neighbors and friends. never forget that. through serving others, you can
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extend that legacy. later today i will have the honor of visiting dr. bethune's home and paying my respects at her gravesite. [booing] [shouting] i am moved by words in her last will and testament, where dr. bethune described what she hoped her legacy would be. the beautifully written testament cited love, hope and a thirst for education as the ideals she wanted people to embrace in her memory. she concluded with a section titled 'a responsibility to our young people,' and made clear her unshakeable belief that the world's fate belonged to the youth she dedicated her entire life to serving. in it she wrote, our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world. they must not be discouraged from aspiring toward greatness, for they are to be the leaders of tomorrow.
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nor must they forget that the masses of our people are still underprivileged, ill-housed, impoverished and victimized by discrimination. we have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends. i note three core themes in her words. first, aim high, aspire to greatness. dr. bethune believed, without wavering, that your potential is limitless. second, take responsibility for your families and your communities and never tolerate inequality or injustice. third, proceed with courage to change old ideas that hold others back. these are charges and encouragements i echo to each of you today. dr. bethune believed students,
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you, had an unlimited potential to affect positive change, and with good reason. she'd done it herself. as you leave, each of you will be called to embody courage in different ways and to rise to different challenges. the way you answer those calls will determine not just the future of you and your homes, but of your communities, this great nation and your world. your university serves as a reminder that every student, without exception, deserves a high-quality education. some of you graduates are the first in your families to earn a college degree, and some of you have overcome incredible personal hardships to reach this day. deondre jamal sanstad was the victim of an accidental shooting after his freshman year.
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his doctor told him he would never walk again, but deondre had different plans. not only did he resume his studies, he poured himself into his rehabilitation and got back on his feet. today, deondre stands tall among you as a candidate to receive his degree, and is already taking the next steps to pursue an mba. [applause] ca'netta general never really thought about attending college before landing at bcu as a non-traditional student. but with help from the palm beach urban league, she found her passion for helping others through radio and television. this discovery fueled her confidence and commitment to her studies, as her ambitions soared. ca'netta became involved with 14 organizations and numerous other campus activities and today is an accomplished mass communications graduate.


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